Richie Manu speaking at alumni of colour pilot event

Over 60 alumni attended the UAL Alumni of Colour Pilot Event on Wednesday 25 April. The event, held at Camberwell College of Arts, was an exploratory evening to find out whether there would be support to launch an Association for our alumni of colour, and what our alumni would expect to see from such a community.

Richie Manu, Course Tutor for MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries at UAL and graduate of CSM, welcomed the alumni guests on behalf of the University, and spoke about why he was inspired to volunteer his time to help get the UAL Alumni of Colour Association off the ground, and gave an outline of organisations working with and around UAL such as the Race Champions Forum, Shades of Noir, GEMS and En>Route. He set the context for the event and expressed that the purpose of the evening was exploratory and to ascertain the purpose (if any) of an Alumni of Colour Association. He then spoke about Consurgo, an initiative he set up a few years ago to be a conduit between industry and graduates. The purpose was to create meaningful connections through programmes such as portfolio reviews, and one of the observations from the initiative was the difficulty in finding professionals of colour from the creative industries to be part of these kinds of projects. Richie also presented some figures from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport which highlight the lack of diversity in the creative industries and quoted, ‘Diversity is nothing without Action’.

The guests then heard from Linett Kamala, who graduated from UAL in 1991, who has also volunteered to be part of the Steering Committee for the Association. Linett spoke about the challenges she felt as a student of colour when she was studying for her degree in the 1990s, and how those challenges inspired her career as a teacher, and then educational leader. She spoke about her vision to see more diversity within the creative industries, and how a potential UAL Alumni Association could work towards achieving that goal.

The guests then broke out into three feedback sessions, led by Richie, Linett, and Maureen Salmon, Senior Lecturer for the Design School at London College of Communication. The sessions were extremely informative and provided the Alumni team with a number of positive ideas and advice for launching the Association.

Some of the feedback to come out of the sessions was that the Association should be strategic to work towards improving the issues facing alumni of colour in industry, it should provide a platform to share experiences, and coming together should be a positive experience, and build the confidence of members. It should provide a space to find work, share ideas, provide career advice, opportunities to exhibit, offer mentoring, collaborative events and skilled resources, and include influencers who can affect change within industry.

Part of the feedback included discussing the name ‘Alumni of Colour Association’. There has been mixed feedback about using the term ‘of colour’. This is the current terminology used internally at UAL, and many guests acknowledged that they wouldn’t necessarily have taken notice of the email invitation if it didn’t include this name. It was agreed that if we take the Association forward, the name will be discussed again in detail.

The Alumni Association would like to sincerely thank all the guests and volunteers who came to the event, and provided such thoughtful and relevant feedback. We are in the process of collating all this information, and will make an announcement soon about the future of the Association, and to talk about next steps.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch with us at alumni@arts.ac.uk.